Having the honor to attend the 2017 National League of Cities conference in Washington, D.C. as a Tigard Youth Delegate was an experience that cannot be mimicked through textbooks. For me personally, my expectations of D.C. is that it represents an area rich with opportunities at every corner; it is a place to make your voice heard, where networking is prosperous, and the epicenter of the political arena. Those expectations were met and went above and beyond. Besides the general culture of the area, which was filled with plentiful diversity of those who looked like they came from all walks of life, the scenery in the city itself is something to behold; the historic buildings, the crooked turns of the avenues and streets, the monuments that blanket the city in memoriam of famed individuals.
One of my most cherished memories from the trip was getting to hear a speech from political commentator Nicole Wallace, who also served as the communications chief during the presidency of George Bush and his 2004 re-election campaign. She spoke about how in a time of division within our nation, it was more important than anything to find unity. It was refreshing to hear and see such a different outlook on the subjects we face and speak about in our everyday lives as American citizens; whether or not those subjects affect us. Even though she has served in positions of top professionalism in the political field, she connected to the audience in a very human way.
It showed me that no matter where our beginnings come from; whether you’re a blue-collar worker or a lobbyist or even President of the United States, we are easily broken down to all having the same foundation of how we are as people.
Even though I was just attending as a Youth Delegate and she was a political analyst who was involved in presidential campaigns, there was a connection made between her and the audience that showed me that we all want the same outcome; to better our country and our lives.
The Youth Delegate portion of the conference allowed the youth council in my hometown to network with other delegates and observe how their councils worked and benefitted their city hall in their own towns. To see the similarities and differences we face in other councils is what caught my attention the most. The various perspectives I was able to receive from other councils helped me shape ideas for what we could possibly bring to the table to our very own youth council. The knowledge I received from those sessions and interacting with other peers is unbeatable to anything I could just read off the Internet or in a book.
The entire event provided me an excellent insight on how we can make changes right here in our own hometown that could spark movement. It was the concept that my voice was not brought down any less just because I was a teen, but was being voiced as any other attendee at the conference. That is what resonated with me the most. My concerns, opinions, and ideas were seen just as valuable as the council members’ at the conference and that was an aspect of the event that showed me how to make difference in my community.